Sudha Ragunathan at WOMAD fest, New Zealand

Sudha Ragunathan at WOMAD fest, New ZealandNew Plymouth in Taranaki hosts WOMAD every year in New Zealand. A beautiful seaside town welcomes over 40,000 people from all around New Zealand to savour the different music, dance and fine art forms from around the globe.


The official website states, WOMAD is all about dancing and listening to refreshingly interesting music, whilst eating your way around the world. That’s exactly how it is!

Sudha Ragunathan at WOMAD fest, New ZealandWOMAD NZ is hosted in a beautiful parkland with sprawling lawns, lakes, rivulets and beautiful vistas. The performances spread out across several stages in the big area. The festival runs for three days and this year it was from 15 - 17 March, 2013.

Sudha Ragunathan at WOMAD fest, New ZealandNumerous stalls are lined up selling food from different countries around the world, pizza stall between the curry house and the taco tent is pretty much a welcome sight. Arts are not left out either with several handicraft vendors displaying intricate work from remote parts of Africa, India and South America to name a few.

For us local Carnatic music buffs, this year’s highlight was, being fortunate enough to listen to one of our best Carnatic musicians, Sudha Ragunathan, B V Raghavendra Rao and Neyveli Skandasubramaniam.. They performed on 17 March 2013, Sunday, the last day of the 3-day festival.

Sudha started the recital with the Mohana varnam, followed by Sidhi Vinayakam in Shanmugapriya and Nambikettavar Evaraiya. In the allocated 75 minutes, she packed in a beautiful Kalyani raga essay with the famous Unnai Allaal compostion of Papanasam Sivan. Sudha concluded the recital with a Meera Bhajan and a Sai Bhajan.

Raghvendra Rao’s raga essays and the responses during the neraval were crisp and melodious at the same time. Skandasubramaniam on the mridangam lent good support and gave us a percussion treat with an excellent tani.

After two days of great sunshine, the weather had turned for the worse on Sunday. It was pouring down heavily when Sudha started her recital and yet she sang unfazed, competing with the beating down rain. She even jokingly commented that whilst there were Carnatic ragas to invoke rain, there were no ragas to stop rain. During the Kalyani piece, the rain gave up competing and stopped to listen to her music!

The WOMAD festival also featured Hindustani classical artiste Manjiri Kelkar in another concert.

Report and photos by Priya Srinivasan